With incomes in the Kingdom raising rapidly, more and more parents are demanding international education services for their children. Khmer Times’ May Kunmakara sits down with Ly Virak, chairman of Learning Jungle International School, who is now opening a new educational institution – Westview Cambodian International School.
KT: Tell us about Westview Cambodian International School.
Mr Virak: With strong support from parents, students, and our own staff, as well as the Ministry of Education, Westview Cambodian International will offer an international secondary education programme with American standards, but with a focus on Khmer language, history and culture. We have created a unique curriculum from grade 7 to 12.
Our vision is to educate the Cambodian youth so that they become responsible and confident citizens equipped with global skills and that embrace their Cambodian culture and values.
Our mission is to prepare our students for the challenges of the modern world through a student-centred and holistic education that aims to help students cultivate the joy of learning, develop grit, build resilience and strengthen their character. We also seek to nurture their entrepreneurial spirit and develop their skills and abilities for innovation and learning as well as help them find the right career path.
KT: Why did you decide to open a new school?
Mr Virak: First of all, Learning Jungle International School offers education from kindergarten to grade 6. After five years of operation, the parents, who have shown tremendous support and trust in our services, have requested that we offer education up to grade 12.
Expanding our business is also in line with my passion to contribute to the development of human resources in Cambodia. My goal is to help build a strong educational foundation through international standards and Cambodian values. Our mission is to help our students be competitive internationally and locally. Based on this mission, we couldn’t just stop at grade 6. We had to expand into secondary education.
KT: I understand that Learning Jungle International School is a branch of an educational institution based in Canada. Is the new school also a branch of the same institution?
Mr Virak: No, Westview Cambodian International School is not a branch.
My team and I have accumulated a lot of experience building Learning Jungle International School and feel we are now ready for this new challenge. Using our extensive networks, we have recruited a team of dedicated and certified international teachers from the United States and Canada, as well as passionate and experienced local and international staff that will help our students achieve the highest academic standards.
To help our students gain access to the top colleges and universities around the world, Westview is currently in the process of becoming accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Schools and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC) and the Council of International Schools (CIS). Both are world-renowned accrediting educational institutions.
KT: Tell us about the facilities in the new school and the curriculum.
Mr Virak: Each classroom will have modern facilities and tools that will make lessons more engaging and effective. We are also putting a lot of emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
STEM plays an important role in our curriculum. Our math curriculum encourages an inquiry-based learning approach. In addition to learning math theories, our students are taught how to solve real-world mathematical problems by asking critical questions and reflecting on their answers. This allows our students to see the applications of the mathematical theories and helps them become critical thinkers who can communicate mathematical ideas fluently.
In our science and technology curriculum, we focus on three important aspects: basic concepts, investigation, and sustainability. Students are introduced to the basic concepts of science, and through different investigations and science experiments, they develop a deeper understanding of the science topics being discussed in class.
Students also learn through group discussions and online research about the impact of science and technology, both positive and negative, on our society and environment.
We’re also currently planning a STEM Roadshow to introduce various STEM projects to our current students and the general public to generate interest in STEM subjects.
This brings to mind a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” That’s exactly what we are trying to do here with our STEM Roadshow.
By showing and explaining to the students and parents the various applications of STEM, we hope they see the importance of these subjects and can relate their future with them.
Our country is moving toward Industry 4.0. Automation and digital technologies are slowly replacing manual labor. The garment industry, which requires so much manual labour, will become less significant. A lot of changes are happening now in our country.
Take digital banking as an example. To transfer money, people no longer need to wait in line, fill out a form, and interact with tellers. They can complete a transfer seamlessly from their smartphones. Our country needs greater human resources in these fields, and I hope we can convey this message to the young generation through our STEM Roadshow.
Westview Cambodian International School is now receiving applications for the next academic year. Classes will start in August.